I can’t be certain,
but waiting in breath-held clouds
while the sky cantankered on the knoll
I was surely petrified.
When later I fought to rise
from knees wasted in prayer
my robe caught on the buckle
of the lone soldier’s obstinate shoe.
Salt tears, searing pain
from your desperate wrench
and the high price of absolution,
hung, sharped, in the setting night.
And we will never be away, or will we?
Can we ever utter gladly,
Now we are done with this?
For the home we made together
is still reflected in reddish water.
On the table, in the pudding,
in each glass you fill and lift,
in the faces of your loved ones,
may you find two special gifts.
Underneath the pretty wrapping,
hung with baubles on the tree,
mistletoed and decked with holly,
hope is boundless, love is free.
Wishing you a warm hug Christmas,
peace and kindness real and true,
may past and present friends and family
raise your spirits – Here’s to you!
Who wouldn’t relish the pink skies
of a twilight winter drive?
Oh, for a quiet ride.
But Anxiety is a mealy-mouthed passenger:
no stuck out chin chest beating bully;
insinuating instead into the drivers seat,
she slips my gears.
Oh, for a quiet ride, but undeniably too
Vexation sits, inclined as though struck,
like a damp yeuk sandwich on the seat beside me,
puckering his lips to sip from
a plastic flask of patched up paranoia.
Oh, for a quiet ride indeed. Enough.
I swerve onto the curb, and
belt unclasped by confident denials, depress
an inbuilt ejector switch. Out they tumble,
rumbled by optimistic assertion.
Ha! In the Hollywood diversion, at last, a quiet ride,
pink skies deepening to best radish red,
conundrums left behind, nothing to remind me
of mistakes, unlucky breaks, driving west…
Okay. Apply the brakes. Get out. Slam the door.
Pick up the pieces, crank the heater,
dry their rusty tears and drive them home.
It seems we are not ready, each, to function on our own.
Surviving, and sucking last year’s fruit pastilles,
we all three, at least, appreciate the pink skies
of a twilight winter drive, but sometimes, sometimes -
Oh for a quiet ride.
We lose them, don’t we, one by one, to time or aspiration?
What seams we sew, must rip to grow: unseemly alteration.
By stealth, their tide begins to ebb, and tangled in the mortal web
they may forget or shift away from our attention – not to say
we love them less – but like the moon, a distant crescent
glanced at briefly, still in our rounded knowledge there completely.
Look in my face now I have lost some valued constant from a distant past
and find the line which holds me like a kite, and fix me to my missing moon tonight.
That by writerly licence, turner of pages, bastion of books,
ambles into the empty library and, notepad open, takes a corner chair.
One hour passes.
Cramp prompts perambulation towards the fiction shelves,
to commune with the Abernalds and Abernathys, the Bagshawes and Baileys,
and while a further hour.
Despite nodding graciously at a couple of oblivious locals,
who rapaciously clutch the bagged imagination of Arthur C. Clarke,
only lunchtime approaches.
Sandwiched between history and psychology, consumed by mystery,
the writer eats secretly, surreptitiously sliding crumpled cling film
between dog-eared tomes.
At four, children bring giggling and in-tow mothers, who skirt
the perimeter of their once-upon-a-times; riding paperback dragons
over the broken back of the day.
As the last book closes, the resident writer gathers all thought
and prepares for another night precariously shelved, wrapped in the cover
of a contemplative manuscript.
Only when yearning takes me by the throat,
crisping my tonsils and closing my butterfly brain
to sensory distractions;
Only when the kernel sticks it’s cankered tongue
against my oesophagus, making it impossible
to utter ludicrous excuses;
and only when churning shakes my salt
into dismayed puddles, eyebrows registering ‘empty’
and my mouth a capital ‘O’;
Only then, will I unchain my curried doppelgänger,
smell mingled sweat and adrenalin, blink in her surprised light.
And with a roar now – go on, roar!
Know how fast we will be away.
At the shiny 8am traffic island,
two freshly employed and eager
young triangular flamingoes arrive
pressed between hardboard, balloons
on their backs announcing deals of the day.
At 5pm, they stuff pale clipped wings
back into hooded jackets and wade
away through pollutant traffic haze,
deflated balloons bobbing, filtering
disappointment through turned down beaks.
Yesterday, I made notched cotton reel
and candle tanks and tied on each
a little waxy sack.
In awe of their extreme anger
I knew from the first, I’d use the wasps,
that’s why I hid them in a drawer
with pens, spells and assorted rubber bands.
Tonight I let them out.
On charge, without goodbyes, the yellowjackets boarded, driving past my face,
the last August light.
Flies and bears would
never do. Badgers are all used up…
Yes, it is high time for those
wood chewing, stripy jacks with
their dripping oviposters
taking away our anxiety, etched yellow, in their little waxy sacks.
Ten fingers strive to exercise a mundane task,
enslaved by hands, their jealous masters, clasping fast
till aching knuckles buckle to the bracelet of the day.
You’d guess they’d ask (above the crack of whip) how so
that they who long to dance, are pinioned tight and must
suspend their joy for subsistence, impinged by stress.
But never did these fingers speak; suffice to know
how noble words and careful deeds and soulful breath
held checked, cut in to scintillate with dazzling display.
D ad told his aviation stories
E very time we met. It
M eant I knew them – sort of. His pride and joy -
E ach became grounded, one by one,
N o longer airworthy…
T il, getting my bearings, I turned a key
I n my voice and imagination,
A nd Flight Lieutenant Dean and I, we learned to fly together.